title · Holes
author · Louis Sachar
type of work · Novel
genre · Mystery; folk tale; adventure novel
language · English
time and place written · 1998, Texas
date of first publication · 1998
publisher · Farrar, Straus and Giroux
narrator · Omniscient
point of view · The omniscient narrator moves constantly through three different time periods. The narrator intertwines scenes from 1800s Latvia, from late 1800s Texas, and from current day Texas to create a larger story of fate and legacy. While writing about the current day, however, the narrator primarily describes the thoughts, actions and activities of Stanley, the protagonist.
tone · The narrator of Holes seems reliable but often interjects dark humor or irony into the narration. Many statements are made which require the reader to make his or her own inferences about the subject matter. At times the narrator breaks with the omniscient narration to address the reader directly and pose questions about the events in the book.
tense · The tense often shifts from the present to flashbacks in Stanley's own life, in the life of Kate Barlow, or to the life of Stanley's great-great-grandfather.
setting (time) · Most of the story takes place at the end of the 20th century but there are fashbacks to the late 19th century and to the mid 19th century.
setting (place) · Most of the story takes place on Green Lake, in Texas. This place is described as it was in the late 19th and late 20th cenuries. There are also brief flashbacks to scenes in Latvia in the mid to late 19th century.
protagonist · Stanley Yelnats
major conflict · Stanley must struggle against the harsh conditions and people at Camp Green Lake in order to assert his independence and eventually free himself and his family from the curse that has been placed upon them.
rising action · Stanley's friendship with Zero alienates the other boys at the camp and the fact that Zero digs part of Stanley's hole makes the other boys jealous. This leads to mounting tension between the boys, which eventually erupts in a fight. The results of the fight lead Zero to run away from camp, eventually causing Stanley to follow him. Once the two have run away there is no going back and they must make concrete decisions about their future plans.
climax · When Stanley steals Mr. Sir's truck and runs away he has reached the point of no return. He has run away and now his lot is with Zero, wherever that may take him.
falling action · Stanley and Zero's escape from camp radically alters their plans. They plot to uncover Kate Barlow's treasure and escape with it, a plan that they never would have attempted if they were not convinced they could not return to camp.
themes · The power of fate to determine events; the benefits of friendship; the destructive nature of cruelty; the importance of history in everyday life
motifs · Names; physical environment
symbols · Onions; lizards
foreshadowing · Every time that a piece of history is revealed, it foreshadows what will happen in the present day Camp Green Lake. For instance, the revelation that the murder of Sam leads to Kate Barlow killing the sheriff because she must react to her personal loss is followed by Zero striking Mr. Pendanski because he cannot handle further taunting and cruelty from Mr. Pendanski.
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!